Friday, August 3, 2012

Rafizi Ramli ~ A shining star in the fast-changing firmament of Malaysian politics

I don't particularly like attending weddings and funerals, even though I appreciate that these are significant rites of passage for most humans. All non-human life-forms generally mate and expire without undue ceremony - and I prefer to align myself with non-human life-forms, simply because I don't detect too much hypocrisy and pretense among them.

Some wedding invitations I cannot refuse, for various reasons - and there are times when one is compelled to formally send off a beloved friend or relative on his or her further adventures. Well, one of the rare weddings I did attend last October was when my dear friend Fi-Sha married Rafizi Ramli.

I had met Fi-Sha during the Hulu Selangor by-election in April 2010 when she came to KKB to observe the proceedings. It was an instant soul connection between us. I found her beautiful and honest beyond words and completely uncontaminated in essence. We chatted often via email, SMS and facebook, and enjoyed a long chat over tea after an evening at the theatre. Her openness, empathy and vulnerability were not only endearing but made me feel very protective towards her. So when she announced that she was engaged, I felt compelled to run a check on her future mate.

PKR director of strategy Rafizi Ramli
One look at Rafizi Ramli's face was all it took to convince me that theirs was destined to be a very auspicious union - one that would ultimately influence the future of Malaysia in a truly positive way. My instincts were confirmed when I finally met Rafizi Ramli on his wedding day and congratulated him on his exquisite taste in women. I also met members of both families and found them perfectly charming and befriendable - the sort of authentic, uncorrupted Malaysians with core values intact who would do their country proud simply by being themselves.

Fi-Sha and Fizi (as she calls him) looked absolutely resplendent at the wedding reception - a very homely and modest affair attended by close friends and family. I whispered to Fi-Sha: "Now you're in for it. One of these days your hubby will be a key figure in the new government, and you'll have your work cut out keeping him grounded, sane and on track."

Disgraced Wanita Umno Chief
Shahrizat Abdul Jalil
It didn't take long for Rafizi Ramli to hit the headlines. His spectacular exposé of the grotesque and almost comical RM250 million National Feedlot Corporation fiasco involving Wanita Umno chief Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and her immediate family gripped the attention of the entire country - and Rafizi's calm and lucid revelations presented over a series of well-attended media conferences lent his shocking accusations irrefutable credibility.

Malaysians have almost become unshockable when it comes to political scandals. What gave an incisive edge to Rafizi's investigation into the NFC scam was the thoroughness and detail of his probe. Of course, a whistleblower or two was involved - otherwise it would have been well-nigh impossible to produce incontrovertible documentary evidence of such shameless financial wrongdoing.

In the following weeks and months it appeared that Rafizi Ramli was on a roll and rapidly warming to his new-found role as Umno's can (of worms) opener. Even as BN was forced to make a big show of arresting and charging Shahrizat's husband Mohamad Salleh Ismail with multiple counts of CBT and misappropriation of funds, Rafizi launched a full-frontal assault on the biggest target of all - crime minister Najib Razak himself who, doubling as finance minister, was shown to have personally manipulated the outcome of an "open tender" exercise in favor of a golfing crony's bid.

Needless to say, BN's knee-jerk reaction was to order Rafizi Ramli arrested on a spurious charge of breaking some banking secrecy law. This is akin to arresting a kid for unlawfully peeping through a keyhole (and infringing on some minister's privacy) when he reports a brutal murder in the bedroom. In this instance, a murder was committed, for sure - the cold-blooded murder of the public's confidence in the BN regime.

Umno crime minister & finance minister(!)
Najib Abdul Razak
By heavy-handedly tampering with routine administrative procedures to ensure that public projects are competently, effiiciently, cost-effectively and - most importantly, safely - implemented, Najib Razak and his cohorts in crime are not only committing massive fraud, they are also endangering the lives of commuters by allowing a dishonest and inexperienced operator to engineer and construct a railway extension at grotesquely inflated cost.

Almost overnight, Rafizi Ramli has joined the ranks of the most electable young candidates in Malaysian politics. My heartiest congratulations and thanks, Fizi!

Once more with feeling... ABU!